Recently, there has been some controversy in the local Barbados media surrounding one of the benches commissioned by Fresh Milk and Adopt a Stop as part of their collaborative Fresh Stops Project. Concerns were aired regarding a bench by Ronald Williams. [Top photo: detail from Ronald Williams’s artwork; below: bench by Williams.]
Here is the Fresh Milk post:
Fresh Milk and Adopt a Stop have been involved in a dynamic partnership since 2014, creating opportunities for young Barbadian contemporary visual artists to produce new artworks in public spaces. To date we have commissioned five artists to produce images for benches which have been popping up around the island, including sites at River Bay, Bathsheba, Hunte’s Gardens, the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination (EBCCI) and Independence Square. The final bench in this current series is set to be released soon, and will be placed at the Barbados Community College (BCC). You can see more about the innovative project here.
In the Friday, September 18th edition of the Nation Newspaper, there was an article referring to one of the benches featuring artwork by BCC Graduate, Ronald Williams, expressing concern about the nature of the images in the piece. Since being a student of the BFA programme at BCC, Ronald has been producing a body of work looking at stereotypical representations of black culture. Here is his statement for Alpha, the piece on the back of the bench in question:
“Alpha attempts to question traditionally dominant Western beauty standards. It injects a black consciousness alongside, and at times instead of, the established images found in Classical Greek, Renaissance and Baroque eras.”
Fresh Milk is also currently showing Ronald’s work in our public gallery space called the Fresh Milk ArtBoard. We have been in touch with the Nation in order to clear up this matter. The artist and representatives from Fresh Milk and Adopt A Stop are happy to discuss the work and the project further to generate a healthy discourse around contemporary art in Barbados.